Bill to ban seaplanes on Oregon’s Waldo Lake opposed

March 27, 2013

With temporary rules that restored floatplane access to Oregon’s Waldo Lake less than a year old, AOPA and the aviation community are moving to oppose a bill that would re-impose a ban on floatplanes’ use of the lake.

AOPA’s advocacy effort is focused on the Oregon House of Representatives, where Senate Bill 602 was headed after an 18-11vote for passage in the state Senate. The bill would ban the use of motors to propel boats or seaplanes on the 9.8-square-mile lake in the Cascade Mountains.

AOPA has been involved in the Waldo Lake access issue over several years during which floatplane use of the lake has faced various challenges. The association has worked in tandem with the Columbia Seaplane Pilots Association, Oregon Pilots Association, and the Recreational Aviation Foundation to support reasonable access to Waldo Lake.

Most recently, temporary access rules were promulgated in May 2012 after a state board reversed a ban ordered in 2010.

In January 2010, the Oregon State Marine Board (OSMB) voted to ban seaplane operations on Waldo Lake, but court challenges from seaplane operators followed. In April 2012, AOPA reported on an OSMB meeting at which the panel reversed its ban, acknowledging that the Oregon Aviation Board was the body with jurisdiction to regulate seaplane operations on Waldo Lake.

At a follow-up meeting in May 2012, the Oregon Aviation Board adopted the temporary rules, as AOPA and other organizations had requested, pending the adoption of permanent access rules.

In January 2013, AOPA submitted comments when the Oregon Aviation Board took up consideration of permanent rules permitting continued, conditional seaplane access to the lake—a plan that was strongly supported by the seaplane community. However, the Oregon Aviation Board did not take any action to make access rules permanent pending legislation to address the access issue.

Senate Bill 602 was introduced in February, and seeks to ban all internal combustion engines from the lake.

A hearing was held March 13 on the bill by the Senate Environment and Natural Resources Committee, at which seaplane operators, the Columbia Seaplane Pilots Association, and members of the public supported continued seaplane access, said Greg Pecoraro, AOPA vice president of airports and state advocacy.

AOPA argued for continued seaplane access to the lake in this letter to the committee, and in meetings with individual lawmakers at the state capitol.

“Aviation access to public lands, whether water or land, is frequently being challenged across the country,” Pecoraro said. “Even pilots who do not operate seaplanes on Waldo Lake should be engaged in this discussion for the overall good of general aviation.”

AOPA’s advocacy team works in conjunction with other aviation organizations such as the Columbia Seaplane Pilots Association, Oregon Pilots Association, and the Recreational Aviation Foundation for fair and open access for general aviation, including seaplane operations. AOPA has been engaged on a variety of local access issues with the Bureau of Land Management, National Forest Service, National Park Service, and many state agencies, working to ensure appropriate GA access to public lands.

Members are urged to monitor the AOPA Northwest Mountain Region advocacy page for additional information about Senate Bill 602 and for calls to action as the measure moves through the legislative process.